click here to jump to start of article
  • Torah Reading: Naso
Join Our Newsletter

Get latest articles and videos with Jewish inspiration and insights​

We Are All Danes Now

We Are All Danes Now

Today the censors may be coming for some unfunny Mohammed cartoons, but tomorrow it is your words and ideas they will silence.


Hindus consider it sacrilegious to eat meat from cows, so when a Danish supermarket ran a sale on beef and veal last fall, Hindus everywhere reacted with outrage. India recalled its ambassador to Copenhagen, and Danish flags were burned in Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi. A Hindu mob in Sri Lanka severely beat two employees of a Danish-owned firm, and demonstrators in Nepal chanted: ''War on Denmark! Death to Denmark!" In many places, shops selling Dansk china or Lego toys were attacked by rioters, and two Danish embassies were firebombed.

It didn't happen, of course. Hindus may consider it odious to use cows as food, but they do not resort to boycotts, threats, and violence when non-Hindus eat hamburger or steak. They do not demand that everyone abide by the strictures of Hinduism and avoid words and deeds that Hindus might find upsetting. The same is true of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons: They don't lash out in violence when their religious sensibilities are offended. They certainly don't expect their beliefs to be immune from criticism, mockery, or dissent.

But radical Muslims do.

The current uproar over cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper illustrates yet again the fascist intolerance that is at the heart of radical Islam. Jyllands-Posten, Denmark's largest daily, commissioned the cartoons to make a point about freedom of speech. It was protesting the climate of intimidation that had made it impossible for a Danish author to find an illustrator for his children's book about Mohammed. Muslims regard any depiction of the prophet as sacrilegious, and no artist would agree to illustrate the book for fear of being harmed by Muslim extremists. Appalled by this self-censorship, Jyllands-Posten invited Danish artists to submit drawings of Mohammed, and published the 12 it received.

Most of the pictures are tame to the point of dullness, especially compared to the biting editorial cartoons that routinely appear in US and European newspapers. A few of them link Mohammed to Islamist terrorism -- one depicts him with a bomb in his turban, while a second shows him in Heaven, pleading with newly arrived suicide terrorists: ''Stop, stop! We have run out of virgins!" Others focus on the threat to free speech: In one, a sweating artist sits at his drawing board, nervously sketching Mohammed, while glancing over his shoulder to make sure he's not being watched. Some make no point at all -- one simply portrays a man walking with his donkey in the desert.

The riots, death threats, kidnappings, flag-burnings speak volumes about the chasm that separates the values of the civilized world from those in too much of the Islamic world.

That anything so mild could trigger a reaction so crazed -- riots, death threats, kidnappings, flag-burnings -- speaks volumes about the chasm that separates the values of the civilized world from those in too much of the Islamic world. Freedom of the press, the marketplace of ideas, the right to skewer sacred cows, the ability to disagree with what you say while firmly defending your right to say it: Militant Islam knows none of this. And if the jihadis get their way, it will be swept aside everywhere by the censorship and intolerance of sharia.

Here and there, some brave Muslim voices have cried out against the book-burners. The Jordanian newspaper Shihan published three of the cartoons. ''Muslims of the world, be reasonable," implored Shihan's editor, Jihad al-Momani, in an editorial. ''What brings more prejudice against Islam -- these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?" But within hours Momani was out of a job, fired by the paper's owners after the Jordanian government threatened legal action.

He wasn't the only editor sacked last week. In Paris, Jacques LeFranc of the daily France Soir was also fired after running the Mohammed cartoons. The paper's owner, an Egyptian Copt named Raymond Lakah, issued a craven and Orwellian statement expressing "regrets to the Muslim community" and offering LeFranc's head as a gesture of ''respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual." But the France Soir staff defended their decision to publish the drawings in a stalwart editorial. ''The best way to fight against censorship is to prevent censorship from happening," they wrote. ''A fundamental principle guaranteeing democracy and secular society is under threat. To say nothing is to retreat."

Across the continent, nearly two dozen other newspapers have joined in defending that principle. While Islamist clerics proclaim an ''international day of anger" or declare that ''the war has begun," leading publications in Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have reprinted the Danish cartoons. But there has been no comparable show of backbone in America, where (as of Friday) only the New York Sun has had the fortitude to the run some of the drawings.

Make no mistake: This story is not going away, and neither is the Islamofascist threat. The freedom of speech we take for granted is under attack, and it will vanish if it is not bravely defended. Today the censors may be coming for some unfunny Mohammed cartoons, but tomorrow it is your words and ideas they will silence. Like it or not, we are all Danes now.

February 5, 2006

Give Tzedakah! Help create inspiring
articles, videos and blogs featuring timeless Jewish wisdom.
The opinions expressed in the comment section are the personal views of the commenters. Comments are moderated, so please keep it civil.

Visitor Comments: 18

(18) Kristoffer, February 28, 2006 12:00 AM

A Dane from Denmark

I think that the article express very much what we feel in Denmark. We don't understand why the Anglo Saxon political establishment seems to forward the manipulated view of a small group of moslems, who is not even supported by the majority of the moslems in Denmark.
The cartoons which have caused the anger does not show the Profet himself. They show what a minority of radical moslems are trying to do in the Profets name.

I am very happy to see that the ordinary anglo saxon people see things more clearly than their political establishments. Best wishes to all of you from Denmark (moderat moslems included).

(17) Anonymous, February 21, 2006 12:00 AM

Bounty on the cartoonists.

Ok im frm india and theres a member in the government in the state of uttar pradesh, the name is Haji Yusuf, he has said that the person who kills the cartoonist will get 500 million rupees plus gold equal to his(killers) weight frm the people of meerut.
Me saying this being an indian is really shameful for me but i just cant believe that this controversy is being strected so long.

just 1 week back there was news that in italy, one of the Hindu Godess's photo was shown holding vine bottles, which is surely an insult to the Hindu religion. but still the Hindu did react with protests but all they asked was for taking the posters down, and the company to apologise and things are normal now. why cant muslims just agree with an apology???

(16) renee greenberg, February 16, 2006 12:00 AM

I agree - we are all Danes. I'm ashamed

I agree & I am ashamed. But there is cowardice in NY after 9-11. What seems to have taken over the headlines & latenight t.v. is the story about Chaney shooting the lawyer. America was the first to have a Bill of Rights- freedom of speech & press. Shame on us!!!

(15) Ellie Six, February 14, 2006 12:00 AM

free speech and press

i used to be proud to say I'm a member of the free world. Lately there is no free world in the US. Our President takes away our rights by illegially wiretapping us, our city takes away our rights to carry packages on the train- without checking them. However the saddest thing is our own press has taken away one of the gurantees I have under my constitution- freedom of Press. I am an American with no religious ties,yet the press is trying to force islem down my throat by adhearing to their standards and not our own. Thank you US and European papers that had the guts to stand up to these Nazislamist. When will the rest of us learn you don't keep free speech by giving it up to a bunch of fanatics half a world away. If they don't like the cartoons, they don't have to read them.After all I make it a point to turn off the tv when the US and Nazilamic press shows beheadings of westerners. Don't they know how to use the off button or are those people just too dumb.

(14) Dianne, February 13, 2006 12:00 AM

A chilling, accurate viewpoint

Chilling is the reference to the famous 'We are all Jews now' statement that the Danes made in WWII when they donned the yellow stars and worked so hard to protect their Jewish citizens. Accurate is the urgency to call to our attention how dire the threat to our freedoms had become--and how cowardly are most of our 'leaders' and media!

See All Comments

Submit Your Comment:

  • Display my name?

  • Your email address is kept private. Our editor needs it in case we have a question about your comment.

  • * required field 2000
Submit Comment